*Let me start this by saying I still have a Pinterest account, and still have my pins visible. My research did not cause me to remove anything I had pinned.
Lately there has been a lot of talk on the internet about Pinterest and copyright violations. By now, most of us have read this article about a Photographer who looked at the terms of service, and promptly deleted all her boards. Today I see that Flickr has given users an opt in/out to allow their images to be pinned or not. In the article, it points to a link on Flickr’s forum where users were discussing Pinterest and the use of the opt-out button. Many of the commenters were for the opt-out button, and happy their work wouldn’t be taken and pinned to Pinterest without their consent. Although, as one commenter pointed out, if they post an image to a blog (or elsewhere online), it can still be pinned from that location, which is a risk we all take when posting things on the internet. My friend, Carrie, says, “I like that Flickr is going that route. People SHOULD be able to choose whether or not their stuff is pinable by others. That being said, I (mostly) agree with the person in the article who thinks it’s bizarre that people would view Pinterest as such a huge copyright issue.”
As a blogger, I see the need to protect your intellectual property, and wanting to make sure that you get credit for images you create and that they aren’t used for things without your consent. But as a user of Pinterest who has been inspired by images and who loves finding new things, I find myself torn. I have had my images pinned to Pinterest, and find it flattering that someone wants to pin an image of what I’m wearing, or a DIY I did last year. I don’t feel like people are saving my image to use it maliciously, but because they think “oh great idea, come back to it later.”
That’s what I feel Pinterest is, at its core; a great big inspiration board of stuff you like, with links back to the source. But, it appears that even though that might be the thought behind the uber popular website, it’s not something everyone is comfortable with. I reached out to a few bloggers, a photographer, a store owner, and a general user of Pinterest to get their opinions on pinterest and how they feel about this controversy.
Kara, from Unusual Form, says, “As a personal-style blogger, I’m always incredibly flattered when someone pins one of my outfits. It means that I’ve put together an outfit that someone has found interesting or inspiring. One of the reasons that I post my outfits each day is so that I can be an inspiration to my readers. I find a lot of my own inspiration from other blogs as well, so you’ll see that my pin boards are filled with photos of other bloggers. Isn’t that what blogging is all about? Sharing?”
Kara is one of the Pinterest users I follow, and I’m always quick to repin something she posts that I find inspiring, and I’ve noticed she does the same to things I post. That, in its essence, is what Pinterest is about.
Another person I’m constantly repining is Neeka, owner of AnikaBurke.com. Since Neeka is a frequent user of Pinterest, pinning her deal of the day, lookbook images and inspiration, I thought she would have an interesting point of view on the use of Pinterest. She says she “loves seeing organic pins of [anikaburke.com merchandise and images] on Pinterest.”
When asked if she feels Pinterest is beneficial to her business, driving traffic to her shop, or helping get her store name out there, Neeka says yes. “I find it very beneficial to my business. We are getting more linkbacks to our site without having to pay for them. Pinterest is the second largest traffic generator [for us]. I love Pinterest and can’t wait to see where it goes.”
Interestingly enough, I found many other business on Pinterest, including Karen Kane, Modcloth, Kate Spade and more. Anthropologie has an account, and while they’re following over 4,000 people, they have yet to pin anything themselves. It appears that many businesses are jointing Pinterest, most likely for the same reason Neeka did- free marketing and inspiration.
While all these businesses are fashion-based, I wondered what a different business, such as a photographer would have to say. I found this image from Procopio Photography on Pinterest, and immediately pinned it on one of my own boards.
(Source: Procopio Photography- used with permission!)
Curiously, I followed it back to the website it’s linked to, which then links to the photographer’s website. I contacted them, to ask how they feel about Pinterest. Cicely says they haven’t “quite formed an opinion about Pinterest yet. It’s funny that you are emailing me about it, because our most recent blog post was the first time we added watermarks. We did that so when pinned, more of our images would be tracked back to us.” You’ll notice that the image I fell in love with was posted prior to their inclusion of watermarks, and can only be traced back to the source by clicking through.
Cicely goes on to say she “loves that [Pinterest] is a new source that people can find us, but I don’t like when images are improperly linked, or not at all, to the source.” Well, therein lies the problem that most people seem to have with Pinterest. The problem seems to be less about Pinterest itself, but more about the link backs, or lack thereof.
Much like the writer of the first post, I found myself perusing Pinterest’s terms of service to see what I got out of it. Boy, you’re not going to like it.